The princess and the HIV test
Near the beginning of this month I went for a quickie HIV test, although not actually on World AIDS Day, because I try not to be a walking cliche. You know, it’s been a while since I’ve had a test, and being deported from Dubai is a life experience I’m quite happy to miss out on.
So I went to a government clinic, conveniently located off Long Street. My counsellor was wonderful, and totally put me at ease. Although she did skimp a bit on information about HIV/AIDS , this was only after she realised I already had more than a basic understanding of the virus. The most important part, for me, was the question about what I would do if I tested positive. It’s really a good exercise to have to predict your reaction, and then try to work out the most constructive way forward.
While I was waiting for my results, 11 other people came in and out of the clinic. Although they weren’t all there to be tested, they were all women. I remarked on this to my counsellor, who said it was: “like the weather. Some days there are only men; some days only women. But, overall, there are more women.” I’ll let this fact speak for itself.
Fifteen minutes after my test I walked out of the clinic with a spring in my step, and a bruise on my finger from where they’d taken just a small prick of blood. I really am like the Princess and the pea.
Testing negative was a really positive experience for me. And, had I tested positive, I would’ve been totally comfortable with finding out the news at the clinic I went to, rather than anywhere else, even though I’d just walked in off the street. God knows, the government has a lot of work to do on our country’s HIV/AIDS policy, but I was really impressed with the counselling.
We can´t all be Zackie, and I know if I did have AIDS, I´d be very grateful for my private medical aid, but I was presently surprised at the level of professionalism and efficiency I encountered at a government health clinic. Whether they´d give me antiretrovirals if I needed them is another matter, however…
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